Many were somewhat taken aback when Boston College was tabbed to finish 3rd in the Hockey East media poll, with a number of close observers (myself included) thinking this was a pretty high bar for a team that lost so much in the offseason.
That expectation level was nothing compared to USCHO pollsters, who dropped their preseason national rankings and picked BC as the #5-ranked team nationally going in to the season. (http://www.uscho.com/rankings/d-i-mens-poll/)
BC was ranked #2 among Hockey East teams, behind #4 BU. Notre Dame, Lowell and Providence were also tabbed as top ten teams.
The college hockey polls are a fairly useless exercise, especially given the lack of information or widespread coverage necessary to truly compare 60 teams against one another, but this benchmark serves as a reminder that it doesn't matter how young or unheralded a team is - if they have Boston College written across their chest, the national expectation is that they will contend.
The poll was naturally skewed toward teams that did well last year. Defending champ North Dakota topped the field, while Quinnipiac, despite losing a slew of players themselves, was ranked #3.
Don’t put too much stock in these early rankings. Incoming recruits come in having played against such uneven competition that unless they come in with huge NHL draft pedigree, it's hard to predict just how good they will be.
If BC’s large freshman class clicks, there’s no reason why they can't contend in Hockey East, but we're a long way off from being able to declare this team a top national contender just yet. We will know more in due time.